Life at the end of the road

September 25, 2017

All quiet on the ‘home front’ :-(

Well it’s been a while hey, sure these posts seem to be getting further apart and more disjointed these days. Truth is, ‘yours truly’ is steering gradually towards drawing his pension and has definitely started being a little less manic. Indeed the ‘grumpy old fart’ has even started watching TV!!!, I kid you not, these days I seem to draw more satisfaction from sitting on George our hand made sofa and watching the ‘one eyed monster’ than plinking away on a keyboard glued to my laptop. Sure we paid more for George than I’ve ever paid for a car but I’m hoping he’ll last much longer and not need either road tax or an MOT. I draw the line at soaps, reality TV, Simon friggin’ Cowell and anything on Channel 5 right enough but I do enjoy a good drama or something that doesn’t involve a prostitute being murdered in the first episode.

Still, I’ve actually been without a TV for a good part of my adult life and when I did watch it in earnest there were only 3 channels, no day time TV and a ‘test card’ for longer than any actual programmes Smile

Test Card, BBC2 625 Lines

I even remember getting mildly excited in the late sixties when it was upgraded to this one.

I was only 10 at the time and thought she was a bit of a babe Smile

It’s just not the same

I guess part of it too is not having the ‘boy’ around, not that he was at home much or actually said a lot anyway. Ross left home when he was 11 really when he went off to high school, but it is strange not having him about the place at the weekends. Still, he does seem to be enjoying life at ‘Uni’ Smile I bet he’s not watching TV, do any children watch it these days? I know it’s the age of the mobile phone, video games and social media but I don’t recall Ross ever watching anything other than ‘The big bang theory’ . I just found it annoying but perhaps that’s why he’s so good at physics Smile

Raasay Distillery is officially open

Anyway, enough of that I’ll try and update you with the news, which in reality means looking back through old photo’s in my camera cos my memory is carp Sad smile 

Of course the big, big news is the distillery is officially open and working, though not actually quite finished yet.

I’ll let the hacks of more reputable publications describe that to you, me I was working so missed the party, which by all accounts was pretty damn good Smile


Sorry, that was just a random party on the Hallaig’s car deck a few days before Smile Methinks it was a wedding at Raasay house, whatever it was they were having a jolly old time of it Smile

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Here is the real party starting with the Isle of Skye pipe band who piped both on and off the good ship Hallaig much to the amusement of the passengers aboard. They also received an enthusiastic welcome on Raasay prior to marching the short distance to the newly converted hotel.



The newly laid ‘stripy’ lawn looking, well, very stripy Smile This is just gonna look boodly amazing next summer, looks pretty good now right enough compared to what it did only a week previously.


The various contractors ‘pulling out all the stops’ to make the day a success.

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Some 13 tar lorries arriving over a two day period to get the car park and access road ‘fit for service’, not to mention keeping the crew of Hallaig ‘on their toes’ Smile

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A trio of Scania’s from Mackenzie & MacLennan, Eyre Plant, A Macleod and Alec Beaton’s DAF making several trips to and from the Sconser quarry tar plant.

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The many and varied guests arriving sometimes by more exotic transport than the Hallaig Smile

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The Midnight Rose and Dignity making Raasay look a little more like Monaco for a day or two at least.

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The local fishing boat Lustre moving to her mooring for the festivities Smile 


The fine Astandoa 70 being available for charter from her owners in Barra One of whom I sailed with aboard MV Finlaggan some year s ago, not that he’ll remember Smile

The rainbows and skate

One thing about all the rain we’ve had,

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there’s been no shortage of rainbows.


There’s been an abundance of porpoises too, as well as a rather large skate that was swimming on the surface.

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Dunno if it was sick or confused but it must have been a good metre ‘wingspan’ and it was flapping about both upside down and the right way up before disappearing into the depths.

I know, I know, it’s pretty rubbish, you had to be there Smile

Meanwhile ‘back at the ranch’ I’ve been concreting, ‘digging and dumping’, fencing and preparing moorings for next year.

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This is a 4 strand 24mm ‘Sea steel’ rope that I’ve had tucked away in my barn for years. They don’t seem to sell it any more and I was never really sure of its advantage over a 3 strand rope. However with a steel ‘tube eye’ and good size swivel it’s eminently suitable for what I require. The rope is spliced just like a 3 strand apart from peeling the 5th inner core right back then folding three strands instead of two one way and the last strand the opposite way. You know if you have it right if you look at it upside down after the first tuck, you should see ‘one over, one under’ all the way around. I guess you would do four tucks instead of three to be ‘kosher’ but I never left the tails long enough so left it at three.


IT will be just fine, I’ll do four on the next one Smile

Yamaha 350 Bruin rear shocker

My mate’s 2007 Yamaha YFM350 Bruin celebrates a decade of hard work this year so I thought I’d treat it to a new rear shocker and handbrake cable.


This quad has done some serious work over last ten years, you only have to read this blog to realize how many tons of coal, oil, rock, pigs, furniture, building materials, fencing stuff, hydro turbine pipe and batteries it has shifted over the years. In all that abuse it has had little more than batteries, oil, tyres, brake pads, starter brushes, track rod ends, steering bushes and one or two electrical faults. It has had less money spent on it in ten years than a Quadzilla I know had in ten months. However the rear shocker failed recently, luckily quality ‘pattern’ ones are available for a fraction of a genuine one and they’re a piece of cake to change. Just jack up the quad under the frame until the rear wheels are just about to lift off the ground, remove the lower split pin and clevis. Lots of WD40 beforehand helps, once that’s out remove the top nut and bolt then replace the unit with lots of grease on everything. The cable is even easier, just cut through all the ‘tie wraps’ holding it to the frame, remove the clevis off the brake handle, undo the wing nut off the rear brake, tape the new cable to the old one then carefully pull it through. After that just connect everything up and adjust it, simples Smile

In the airport

So that’s it really, I’m stuck in the Holiday Inn at Glasgow airport having just completed my five yearly update of ‘Personal Survival Technique’s’ and now know how to do sea water colonic irrigation with a life raft foot pump. Tomorrow it’ll be a fire fighting update, hopefully I’ll not be going into a dark steel container and set on fire like what happened to me in Hull some years ago. That was real scary sh1t and I came away with singed ears and a healthy respect for fire prevention Smile


August 25, 2017

Bit of a Jonah :-(

Golly gosh, that was a quick and exciting day at work, all the more so cos it was just a single one and nothing more than a ‘start up’ and return crossing to do tomorrow. Of course I’d rather have been scouring the bottom of Loch Arnish for anchors with my son and mate but they managed just fine without me. Whilst I was repaying my ‘back to back’ for one of the many days he’s covered for me, my son and co found another old fish farm farm anchor on the bottom of the loch. Though this only brings the total to three fresh large ones and four small, it feels like much more cos we’ve found some twice on account the marker buoys going AWOL.

The first barley for the Raasay Distillery Smile

As my shipmate would be doing the ‘start up’ this morning I wasn’t quite so early leaving home and braved a spell of the dreaded midge about the croft before heading south around 6:45.

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The day bearing no resemblance to the one promised by XC Weather  last night. The venerable old cruise ship MV Berlin  heading for a day’s shopping in Portree and Ben Tianavaig covered in cloud as I passed by. Indeed methinks it was pishing down on and off till lunchtime. Not that we actually get a lunchtime on Friday anymore, at least not during the school term anyway. The Highland Region Council saw it in their interest as a cost cutting measure to close the high school at lunchtime on a Friday. The amount of money that’s going to save is surely outweighed by the inconvenience caused to the parents and pupils alike. Of course they did this with very little consultation or thought for the Raasay schoolchildren who would be stuck at Sconser for the best part of two hours. Luckily Cal Mac agreed at very short notice to put on an extra sailing especially for them. The extra sailing departing Raasay at 13:30 and Sconser at 14:00, only during school term right enough but anyone can use it.

Anyway, without a dinner break and with a busy day of distillery traffic the day has just disappeared.

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The first sailing from Sconser being jammed to the gunwales with a large Scania belonging to WS Macarthur full of barley. There was also one of Patterson’s nice old Volvo’s nicknamed the ‘Road Devil’, I guess cos of the registration number   Capture Smile Quite apart from the artic and flatbed there was also a few vans cars too.


The imported barley being supplemented by some locally grown stuff, probably the last barley grown on Raasay would have been at the North End some thirty or more years ago. This neat little combine coming over specially to do it, though I dunno how it got on in the pishing rain which didn’t clear until the afternoon.

Not the easy day I was expecting Sad smile

Of course having already been off a few days and only coming in to cover so to speak, I wasn’t actually expecting a challenging day ahead. Indeed I was hoping for a relaxed day of directing traffic and light greasing. Well, that went a little ‘pear shaped’ mid afternoon with a whole load of alarms telling me my oil was hot.


Luckily we also have a proper thermometer in the oil,


which told a more realistic story, 40 degrees and not 119.9. So it was time to break out the wiring diagrams and 4 to 20mA test meter.

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The offending component was soon identified, one of the many I/O units on a ‘communication gateway’ that allows different systems to communicate with each other. Basically one bit of the ship is speaking Dutch and the other German and this ‘gateway’ makes sense of it all. With that ascertained I ordered another, a snip at around £1100!!!!! Everything to do with ships is extortionate, a few weeks ago I changed a bilge holding tank sensor, a part that on a car would have cost about £35, on a ship  the same bit, which performs the function of a glorified dipstick is £600!!!! You couldn’t make it up really. Methinks my ‘back to back’ is gonna be a little dischuffed with me, once more I’ve left him a broken ship, bit of a Jonah these days me Smile

The days I did get off

So, that was today, whilst I was actually off I used the first full day to get some diving in with my son. We did a couple of dives looking for an anchor whose marker had vanished and whilst we didn’t find that one we did find a large chain we’d lost. Again, this was one previously marked that had vanished and during the evening’s high tide we floated out an anchor to lay a mooring for a mate.

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All this under the watchful eye of the ‘Wee Dug’ Molly.


Very changeable

To say that you just do not know what the weather is going to do next would be a bit of an understatement.

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These pictures taken two minutes apart giving you some idea of just how changeable the weather can be here. Mist over the Storr, rainbow further north and blue sky at Brothers point, all before 7:10 in the morning.

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The previous day at 6:07 and 6:33 from the same window.


The ‘Big Head’ and Goat Island today at some point when I wasn’t buried down below with wiring diagrams and a multi meter Smile


I passed these ‘shrooms growing on a fallen birch tree on the way home and I really don’t have a clue what they are.

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